Districting Commission approves City Council map


| brennison@queenscourier.com |

Map courtesy of NYC Districting Commission
Map courtesy of NYC Districting Commission

The city's Districting Commission withdrew their final map setting off a new round of public hearings.

Another round of redistricting is complete and new City Council lines are one step away from taking effect.

The city’s 15-member bipartisan Districting Commission unanimously approved the redrawn map on November 15 before presenting it to the City Council for approval. If the council does not object to the map, the new council districts will take effect in 2013.

The decennial council redistricting is done to account for fluctuations in the census.

During the two rounds of public hearings, advocacy groups spoke out against current district lines that, they said, split minorities, diluting their vote. The newly submitted map includes five additional districts containing a majority of minority groups, bringing the number to 35 out of 51.

“The commission believes that the revised plan reflects what was shared with the commission, within the legal restrictions set forth by the New York City Charter,” the group said in a statement.

While improvements have been made, Jerry Vattamala, of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), said they did not go far enough, calling it a “mixed bag.”

Some communities saw no improvement in the new map or in other cases were made worse, according to Vattamala.

In Queens, dozens of locals advocated for placing Oakland Gardens in District 19 with Bayside, but instead a larger area of the neighborhood was placed in District 23. Briarwood and Jamaica Hills, which shared a district, are now split up.

Among the positives included in the new map, the second draft released by the commission, was a greater portion of the Indo-Caribbean community being placed in District 28 and the Elmhurst/Jackson Heights area closely conforming to the “unity map,” said Vattamala,

Several groups advocated for the “unity map,” which complied with all the legal requirements set forth in the city charter and was designed to protect the voting rights of minorities in the city.

The submitted map will not be subject to any further public review unless the council rejects it, which Vattamal said “violated the spirit of the city charter.”

“The map was presented to the public Thursday evening and less than 24 hours later was submitted to the New York City Council,” he said.

At this time the AALDEF is not considering legal action, but as they continue to analyze the map, it remains an option.

If there is an objection, there will be a third round of public hearings before a final plan is presented to the city clerk’s office for approval by March 5 before heading to the Department of Justice for clearing.